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An Army At Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 (Liberation Trilogy) Paperback – 5 Aug 2004

25 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (5 Aug. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349116369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349116365
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 103,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Every military history buff should read An Army at Dawn (Sunday Telegraph)

There is much to applaud in this impressively researched work . . . An Army at Dawn makes utterly absorbing reading (BBC History)

More of a biography of a generation than of a class at West Point... Stark, shocking, jolting (John Eisenhower, Chicago Tribune)

A compelling and highly readable story that provides a valuable corrective for a British reader (Hew Strachan, Telegraph)

Book Description

* First volume of Rick Atkinson's monumental trilogy about the Liberation of Europe in the Second World War. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History 2003.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Madaxeman on 22 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
I bought this book expecting a full account of the entire WW2 North African campaign - but it is in fact an (addmiitedly hugely detailed) account of TORCH - the Western bit of the campaign, and so the 8th Army, Montgomery, El Alamein and all that stuff is totally missed, except when they combine with the (largely American) forces pushing eastwards under Eisenhower to Tunisia.
The detail of the many battles, for hills, villages and towns, is impressive, and it certainly gave me insight into a part of the war I had little knowledge about, but (and it is a big "but") it's strengths are then undermined by it's (almost) "American-only" perspective, and to a lesser extent by the relatively few detailed personal accounts it includes.
Whilst it may be harsh to criticize a book because it has a narrower focus that its cover is selling, the US-only aspect is harder to defend. Perpectives of German, Italian, French and a few more British combatants would have been welcome, and perhaps even a view of how the Arab natives - who appear only as cardboard cutouts, targets and cliches - found life as they were pitched ito a war-zone, and passed between as many as 3 occupying forces inside a couple of years. All in all I found myself wishing for a Max Hasings version to rectify these shortcomings (aka his excellent Armageddon on the fall of Germany).
So, what this book is is first and foremost an account of how the American army started to learn how to be come a combat outfit, and how some of its leaders got their first taste of action, and began their evolution into the war-winning commanders of Western Europe. It's good for that - and pulls no punches in criticizing the mistakes and shortcomings of men, strategy, organisation and logistics - but it still not even close to a 360 picture of the North African campaign.
Read for this, its a good and interesting read in itself - but don't believe the hype on the cover.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Carl on 25 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
Like others I bought this expecting an account of much more than just Torch and the Tunisian Campaign due to the full title. However I understand where the author is coming from, hence the title and the books in the rest of the series, focusing on the American Armed forces during the Second World War. One can't blame him for this however I do feel if he had thrown in even an extra chapter to summarise the back and forth fighting that had taken place in the previous years more people would have been happier by this account.

This is an area I have read little about and I found this book to well written, very interesting and informative on the invasion of North Africa and the subsequent battles. I found that the author gave a rather balanced account of the non-American forces, for example he describes British tanks covering an American retreat and how the British command slipped in their own men underneath Eisenhower to run the campaign. The author lets loose where he believes it is fully deserved, for example, being extremely critical of the American Corps commander Lloyd Fredendall.

I think this book is well worth a look.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Buster on 18 Jun. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
To me,a very evocative book, as I was with a mobile spitfire fighter squadron, landing at Algiers in November 1942 when all our technical stuff on a lighter, was sunk. What amazed me of the account was dreadful a lot of the fighting was, we were strafed from time to time but suffered none of the losses suffered by both British and American soldiers.
The latter we knew were very green which was they particularly suffered such heavy losses. I also recall quite clearly the B17 bombing of Souk el Arbah our pilots had to be severely restrained from retaliating! To add insult to injury, shortly after, the Germans strafed the place - I hid under a Spit - what they were aiming at! All in all, the book has proved a fascinating and rather disturbing read. I especially recall the Kasserene (spelling?) pass incident, a Hurricane Squadron(43) were bombing the enemy, almost in the circuit - that close!
Anyone of my age or with relatives who served then and there would be most intrigued and probably - like me - amazed at the near disaster the campaign turned out to be. The eventual chasing the Axis forces out via Cap Bon was a great joy, and as we moved up in preparation to mount the Sicilian invasion,one of our young airmen, stopped a truck full of German POW,s turfed them off and our lads who had been somewhat cramped in one of our trucks,loaded up in comfort! We kept the truck for a while, but one of our officers would not let us take it to Malt ( our next stop before Sicily) you'll now appreciate my enjoyment of the book. I was 21 then no prizes for guessing how old I am now.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have long wished to follow the exploits of my father from north Africa to Italy and thence to Europe with the 8th army - I have read many books on the second world war but Rick Atkinson has put together one of the most comprehensive accounts of these events, accenting the American involvement but giving all the allies due respect, British, Canadian, Polish, French, Nepalese, Indian, African - and all other allies - not mentioned here but of all of equal importance. One of the most important and fascinating aspects of these accounts is the interaction - or lack of - between the few essential commanders who attempted to do the bidding of the planners and the overall commander Eisenhower whose worth seems to have been misunderstood by his self obsessed generals - a genius in keeping a team together and focussed on the goal.
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